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Piper Fellow Recipients 2008

2008 Piper Fellow Edmundo Hidalgo

“My parents always instilled in me the values of family, hard work, and giving back. Growing up in San Luis, Arizona, working in the fields, I learned at a young age that education was a vital necessity that could become a conduit to providing for a family and giving back to the community.”
– Edmundo Hidalgo, Chicanos Por La Causa

Edmundo Hidalgo first worked for the statewide Latino community development corporation, Chicanos Por La Causa, in 1986 for four years. Almost a decade later, while completing an MBA at Arizona State University, Mr. Hidalgo returned to the 39-year-old organization as COO. In 2008 he became the CEO, focusing on the bottom line to drive the organization to maintain financial stability through its entrepreneurial programs.

“My sabbatical consisted of three peer site visits and three educational seminars.

There was a theme that came out of all three of my visits. One: There is much to learn from other organizations but there is much to teach. Two: We have a wealth of knowledge that due to our history and size would benefit many in our sector. Three: Although we are very willing to share that knowledge, a stronger effort needs to be made to make that happen.

“In the seminar at the Center for Creative Leadership, I discovered I had a great deal of leadership capital which was being underutilized, and most importantly, I found that I could ask our management team to do more, to accept more responsibility and to trust in the changes that would be implemented at CPLC. The feedback provided to me gave the comfort and confidence to accelerate change and to move the organization in the direction I had envisioned at a much faster pace than originally projected.

“Being exposed to national and international peers at the Stanford Social Entrepreneurship Program, most of whom were involved in social enterprise ventures, was exciting. My primary interest was in understanding how to transfer the entrepreneurial spirit to our clients. Although the exact answer was not to be found, what I did learn was through collaboration and innovation we can be more inclusive of others–and then it is possible to transfer entrepreneurial opportunity to individuals seeking self-employment.”

2008 Piper Fellow Mark Nelson

“I started in the field of blind services in the area of assistive technology, progressed to program management, and then into executive leadership. I started and remain in the field for the same reason, to help blind and visually impaired people attain their greatest level of achievement and success.”
– Mark Nelson, Foundation for Blind Children

At the time of his fellowship Mark Nelson worked in blind services for 19 years, bringing a dynamic background in assistive technology and management to his position as COO of the Foundation for Blind Children. Changes in executive leadership in 2007 led to new organizational challenges and Mr. Nelson’s Piper Fellowship focused on strengthening his leadership skills during the organization’s transition.

Mr. Nelson attended a program on Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an Executive Program in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School. He also participated in the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program in Leadership. To gain greater personal insight Mr. Nelson worked with an executive coach throughout the fellowship.

“The sabbatical went exactly as expected and was the best experience of my career. The only difficulty was the 360-degree evaluation. I had heard ahead of time that the results of this kind of evaluation are typically difficult to face: My experience was no different. That said, I wouldn’t trade it away for anything! Combined with subsequent coaching, it has changed me as a person and leader forever. In the three classes I attended, I interacted with 220 people from 24 countries in both nonprofit and for-profit companies.”

2008 Piper Fellow Daniel Scoggin

“Great Hearts opened its first school in South Central Phoenix in fall 2009 to serve an economically disadvantaged population. The timing could not be better for Great Hearts to learn from the best operators in the country who have proven academic results with first-generation college bound students.”
– Daniel Scoggin, Great Hearts Academies

In 2005, Daniel Scoggin, Ph.D., was appointed the first CEO of Great Hearts Academies, a charter school management company in Greater Phoenix. At the time of his fellowship the schools served over 1,800 students in grades 6-12. Formerly, he served as headmaster of Tempe Preparatory Academy for six years. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Claremont Graduate University and is the author of the Great Hearts Academies business plan. With the advent of a new school in South Central Phoenix to serve minority, first-generation college bound students, Dr. Scoggin’s sabbatical focused on developing his skills in delivering quality education to this underserved population.

“One of the many wonderful outcomes of the best practices visits by me and my team is that we established a formal partnership with KIPP Delta by which our teachers visit their school to learn from their teachers and students, and vice versa. Schools are primarily about the culture of expectation that they adhere to (and believe in) and can only be understood by walking the halls of a school and hour over hour in classrooms and lunchrooms.

“The second major aspect of my sabbatical was attending the Executive Program for Growing Companies at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. I was renewed in the academic environment and greatly enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow students who were from countries around the world. The conversations extended beyond the classroom about how we are all trying to grow our companies to long-term stability and to move from good to great in operational integrity.

“The fellowship has personally had a significant effect on me. In addition to the lessons learned during the sabbatical itself, I have found the relationship with other Piper Fellows to be highly valuable in my own professional development. Some of those conversations and friendships have taken on a life of their own. I have people I can call when I have management and nonprofit questions, and I have been glad to be consulted on education issues by other Fellows.”

2008 Piper Fellow John Swagert, MD

“In my career I have delivered 3,405 babies. I have had the privilege of being with families at their most hopeful and exciting times. I have been present as families try to cope with the most profound despair imaginable. We are all diminished when these most human events are clouded by worry about how they will be paid for. That is why I chose to lead an organization that works to make healthcare affordable for all.”
-John Swagert, MD, Mountain Park Health Center

John Swagert, MD, joined Mountain Park Health Center in 1998 after working four years in private practice as an obstetrician. Trading in his “scalpel for a BlackBerry,” Dr. Swagert left clinical medicine to become CEO in 2006, and led the organization in its pursuit of affordable healthcare. The focus of his sabbatical was to strengthen his ability to develop an infrastructure capable of adapting to a changing healthcare and economic environment, as well as seek opportunities for collaboration.

Dr. Swagert attended the Stanford Business School Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders and spent time at an ad agency in Minneapolis learning about marketing development and branding opportunities for Mountain Park.

“Creating awareness of what my organization does for the community it serves is critical to our clinical impact, our business model, and our ability to tell our story and attract funders to help support our mission. An unintended result of this experience was an appreciation for the approach to problem solving that the members of the creative staff of the ad agency use. My organization is clinical and very data-driven–we sometimes struggle to think out of the box. The ad agency team has more ideas than they know what to do with and their challenge is to find data and logic to support their ideas. More crossovers of these sometimes dysfunctional styles would help both types of organizations.”

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